Books et al.History of Science

Interpreting evolution

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Science  29 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6298, pp. 451
DOI: 10.1126/science.aag2125

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During one of the most dramatic waves of racist and eugenic ideas in the early 20th century, the great paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson astutely observed that "Whether or not they are really pertinent, biological theories are being used in this field, and the biologist necessarily has a part in the discussion." Such fluxes of knowledge from biology to the wider society and their implications are the focus of Marianne Sommer's History Within: The Science, Culture, and Politics of Bones, Organisms, and Molecules. The book focuses on the work of American paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn (1857–1935) at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), the British evolutionist Julian Huxley (1887–1975) and his work at the London Zoo and other facilities, and the Italian-born, Stanford-based geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza (b. 1922) and his contributions to the Human Genome Diversity Project.